Before I launch into the blog post discussing today's comic (and since I'm already getting e-mails about it), I wanted to talk about the recent controversy surrounding the DUI arrest of Shia LaBeouf on Sunday. If you were at all offended by Monday's comic, you'll want to continue reading.
First, I am aware that the L.A. County Sheriff's Department cleared LaBeouf of any fault in the accident that sent him to the hospital with head, knee, foot and hand injuries. Apparently another drive ran a red light colliding with LaBeouf's truck and rolling it over.
That said, LaBeouf was still driving around drunk at three in the morning. So I don't think this new information completely absolves him of the criticism I've lobbed his way in the past. Chalk it up to inexperience with the media on LaBeouf's part, but you don't give interviews bragging about how you're not part of the Hollywood night life and then make headlines for drunk driving. I take a pretty hard line on drunk drivers and, the fact of the matter is, the kid has more than enough money and more than enough resources to call a cab or even hire a limo driver for the night if he wants to go out drinking.
Now, switching gears back to Monday's comic, I wanted to take this opportunity to apologize.
I don't do this often because it's always a catch-22 when you apologize for a joke or something objective. There's a good chance that there is someone out there who really liked the comic and thought it was funny. By apologizing for it, you're kind of leaving them out to dry.
But hindsight is 20/20 and looking back on Monday's comic, I feel I went about the situation in an entirely inappropriate way.
Back in the days when I used to have Ben Affleck for a punching bag, it was all in good fun, clearly over-the-top and had no bearing in the real world. I mean, "Benbots" C'mon!
My mistake with the Shia situation was trying to mine real-life tragedy for laughs and I really had no business trying to incorporate it into the comic as well. There should be a Theater Hopper version of Shia that is a gross caricature, but not a real life version of Shia that I poke with a stick and laugh at his misfortune.
I'm not trying to make excuses, but just so you understand the situation, I literally found out about Shia's accident probably 30 minutes before I sat down to write the comic. So, in a hurry and under the impression that there was some kind of invisible expectation for me to comment about it, I wrote Monday's comic. It was poorly conceived and, given the chance to do it again, I would have written it completely differently.
Actually, given a second chance, I'm wondering if I would have even bothered. Truthfully I'm starting to wonder if the abject "hatred" of any celebrity played for laughs is something I should be doing anymore.
Again, it goes back to the subjectivity of the issue. I've talked to many people who loved the strips that bash Ben Affleck and Shia LaBeouf. It taps into something they admit feeling themselves, but could not fully articulate. Some people I've talked to tell me they never really realized how much those actors annoyed them until I shined this spotlight on them.
On the other hand, I've heard from just as many people who feel those comics are harsh and unfair. They find it a turn off and I can see where they're coming from.
Considering Theater Hopper is a semi-autobiographical comic, people can't see the line between parody and reality. They ask me "Why do YOU hate Shia so much?"Truth be told, I'm kind of indifferent to the guy. He's an okay actor, he tries hard. I think he's a little too concerned about establishing a legacy for himself at a young age and I think the media is partly responsible by labeling him the next Tom Hanks. If you were to boil it down. basically I would say he hasn't earned his dues. But, hey - in 5 years time, I could totally be eating crow. I recognize that.
But when people read the comics and think I have a personal agenda against the guy, things are being lost in translation. A lot of what's in the comic is exaggerated for comedic effect. If people aren't picking up on that, either I'm not doing a very good job communicating the tongue-in-cheek aspect of things or it may be time to move off the subject completely.
I would certainly say for the time being that I consider any Shia comics radioactive. Probably not going to attempt another one for a while. We'll see if they come back, but my enthusiasm for them has certainly been diminished. I have only my own lack of foresight to blame.
Apologies to anyone offended by Monday's comic. Thanks for your patience and understanding.